Using the arts to further local economies in eastern Kentucky is the focus of a Somerset conference this week. The Citizens’ Institute on rural Design meeting brings together local leaders, non-profits, community organizations, and citizens. Jack Herlihy studies economic development in Appalachia. He says many eastern Kentuckians take their talents to other communities, such as musicians heading to Tennessee.
“Now, if we had a center where they could come back on a regular basis and be proud of their culture and proud of the kinds of things that they can do to teach kids to be able to write songs and whatever else then our thing is how to you have those and stay in the mountains if you choose to,” said Herlihy.
The Pikeville based Central Appalachian Institute for Research and Development is hosting the event. C-E-O Herlihy says a Martin County resident recently sought advice for marketing a ‘fly’ for fishing.
“Well he’s looking for how to connect and so we introduced him to somebody who could help him design and market his products. He was already doing it, but he was just selling it at the local store,” added Herlihy.
The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design conference is exploring using the arts to spur on economic development in communities with 50 thousand people or less.